Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"If.. then hear."

 I haven't read through the whole Old Testament in quite a few years, and when I picked which book to start with, I was drawn to 2 Chronicles, because I was searching for wisdom... So, why not look for it in Solomon's story? Well, in this chapter (2Chron6)so many things jumped out at me, stood out, did flips, whatever, that I just decided to post it all, in case you would get something out of it too. Usually I highlight the parts that stuck out to me, but this time, I left it all the same, so that you can have an unbiased reading of it (other than the version, of course, which is ESV, same as my Bible was this morning)

Anyway, it's amazing what God chooses to do when we turn to Him, stretch out our hands and ask...

Then Solomon said, "The LORD has said that he would dwell in thick darkness. But I have built you an exalted house, a place for you to dwell in forever." Then the king turned around and blessed all the assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel stood. And he said, "Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who with his hand has fulfilled what he promised with his mouth to David my father, saying, 'Since the day that I brought my people out of the land of Egypt, I chose no city out of all the tribes of Israel in which to build a house, that my name might be there, and I chose no man as prince over my people Israel;  but I have chosen Jerusalem that my name may be there, and I have chosen David to be over my people Israel.'  Now it was in the heart of David my father to build a house for the name of the LORD, the God of Israel. But the LORD said to David my father, 'Whereas it was in your heart to build a house for my name, you did well that it was in your heart. Nevertheless, it is not you who shall build the house, but your son who shall be born to you shall build the house for my name.' Now the LORD has fulfilled his promise that he made. For I have risen in the place of David my father and sit on the throne of Israel, as the LORD promised, and I have built the house for the name of the LORD, the God of Israel. And there I have set the ark, in which is the covenant of the LORD that he made with the people of Israel."

 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands. Solomon had made a bronze platform five cubits long, five cubits wide, and three cubits high, and had set it in the court, and he stood on it. Then he knelt on his knees in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands toward heaven, and said, "O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you, in heaven or on earth, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to your servants who walk before you with all their heart,  who have kept with your servant David my father what you declared to him. You spoke with your mouth, and with your hand have fulfilled it this day. Now therefore, O LORD, God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father what you have promised him, saying, 'You shall not lack a man to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk in my law as you have walked before me.' Now therefore, O LORD, God of Israel, let your word be confirmed, which you have spoken to your servant David.
 "But will God indeed dwell with man on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this house that I have built! Yet have regard to the prayer of your servant and to his plea, O LORD my God, listening to the cry and to the prayer that your servant prays before you,  that your eyes may be open day and night toward this house, the place where you have promised to set your name, that you may listen to the prayer that your servant offers toward this place. And listen to the pleas of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. And listen from heaven your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.
 "If a man sins against his neighbor and is made to take an oath and comes and swears his oath before your altar in this house, then hear from heaven and act and judge your servants, repaying the guilty by bringing his conduct on his own head, and vindicating the righteous by rewarding him according to his righteousness.
 "If your people Israel are defeated before the enemy because they have sinned against you, and they turn again and acknowledge your name and pray and plead with you in this house,  then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them again to the land that you gave to them and to their fathers.
  "When heaven is shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against you, if they pray toward this place and acknowledge your name and turn from their sin, when you afflict them,  then hear in heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel, when you teach them the good way in which they should walk, and grant rain upon your land, which you have given to your people as an inheritance.
  "If there is famine in the land, if there is pestilence or blight or mildew or locust or caterpillar, if their enemies besiege them in the land at their gates, whatever plague, whatever sickness there is, whatever prayer, whatever plea is made by any man or by all your people Israel, each knowing his own affliction and his own sorrow and stretching out his hands toward this house,  then hear from heaven your dwelling place and forgive and render to each whose heart you know, according to all his ways, for you, you only, know the hearts of the children of mankind, that they may fear you and walk in your ways all the days that they live in the land that you gave to our fathers.
 "Likewise, when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a far country for the sake of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm, when he comes and prays toward this house, hear from heaven your dwelling place and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to you, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and that they may know that this house that I have built is called by your name.
 "If your people go out to battle against their enemies, by whatever way you shall send them, and they pray to you toward this city that you have chosen and the house that I have built for your name, then hear from heaven their prayer and their plea, and maintain their cause.
 "If they sin against you— for there is no one who does not sin—and you are angry with them and give them to an enemy, so that they are carried away captive to a land far or near, yet if they turn their heart in the land to which they have been carried captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captivity, saying, 'We have sinned and have acted perversely and wickedly,' if they repent with all their mind and with all their heart in the land of their captivity to which they were carried captive, and pray toward their land, which you gave to their fathers, the city that you have chosen and the house that I have built for your name, then hear from heaven your dwelling place their prayer and their pleas, and maintain their cause and forgive your people who have sinned against you. Now, O my God, let your eyes be open and your ears attentive to the prayer of this place.
 "And now arise, O LORD God, and go to your resting place,
   you and the ark of your might.
Let your priests, O LORD God, be clothed with salvation,
   and let your saints rejoice in your goodness.
O LORD God, do not turn away the face of your anointed one!
    Remember your steadfast love for David your servant."

Monday, May 9, 2011

Do not divert. Do not divert.

Well, these babies are going to continue to come fewer and farther between, as I’m getting super busy spending my last few weeks in the US and then, I’m off to the Slovak Republic for a few months. I’ve got packing lists, planning lists, shopping lists, visiting lists, all sorts of things going on all at the same time, but it’s AMAZING to see how God is slipping His own unique fingerprint into every part of my week. 
I can see him E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E.
for instance, my calendar is quite full of all sorts of things, but God in His graciousness kept a certain pocket of time open, (literally filled every other spare second around it with jobs and planning activities), so i could say yes to spending a bit of time with some good friends by going to a small concert in the area. 
I can’t tell you how cared for that made me feel, when I went to check my calendar, to see if I could go with them, and that was like, the ONLY spot open for seven days in a row!
I’m just overwhelmed, *personal confession time* because I know I haven’t been giving God my full attention, and best effort, yet He’s still giving me His best. I am humbled. And a bit ashamed, BUT it’s such a wonderful feeling to not be condemned because of my mistakes.
I’m SO easily distracted, that it’s quite simple really for the devil to divert me from the path God’s laid out for my day... like, let’s say I have a list of things I need to get done in a morning, and on my way to finish gathering verses for a program I’m speaking at, I bump my hand into the wall and break a nail... well, then i have to go and fix it, of course. and after I’ve located the nail file at the back of my sink drawer, well i notice that the drawer really could be reorganized. then after it’s reorganized, i think “well, why not the cabinet too?” and so on and so forth, until i glance at the clock and realize that I have to leave for my chiro appointment in five minutes, or I’ll be late, and I haven’t even picked up my Bible yet. you know, typical “if-you-give-a-mouse-a-cookie” scenario. only, this isn’t a cute kids book, it’s my life.
These little diversions make me CRAZY when I realize they’ve prevented me from what I was needing to do. 
That’s something I’m working on-- recognizing a diversion and resisting it through the strength of Christ. I’m truly REALLY bad at it. But I’m hoping to get better. 
You see, we Christians aren’t made to stay in one place in our walk with Christ. It’s an ever-changing, ever-rising lifestyle, and it keeps us on our toes and on our knees at the exact same time. So as I’m working to avoid distractions and keep on the right path this week here’s the passage of Scripture I’ll be meditating on: 
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of Go, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication...” Ephesians 6:10-18
well, that’s all the time I have right now! Need to get a few hours of shut-eye before this enormous week starts. And now that I’ve said all of this, not that I believe in jinx or whatever, but I know that it will very likely be an even greater battle for me this week because I’m aware of it, and wanting to overcome. That’s just how these things seem to work. So pray for me, if you think of it. :) and let me know if ever I can pray for you.
Currently undistracted,

Monday, May 2, 2011

So Great

May 1st heart songs...

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,  built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,  in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. Eph 2:12-22

So Great- Michael W. Smith, Israel Houghton and Christy Nockels

A live version of So Great- Smith, Houghton, Baloche, Nockels, Chapman and Tomlin (!!)

The Solid Rock- performed by Avalon, from one of my all-time favorite albums

All My Fountains- Chris Tomlin